Reinke’s edema is characterized by abundant interstitial (betweeen cells) storage of a gelatinous mass directly under the surface membrane of the vocal fold (this area under the epithelium is called lamina propria or Reinke’s space). The additional mass of the vocal fold causes slower vibrations – the voice sounds rough and especially female voices may be perceived as male voices.
Once Reinke’s edema is present it will not resolve or disappear again. Reinke’s edema mostly interferes significantly with speech and might cause frequent throat clearing. We recommend phonomicrosurgical removal with high precision instruments. Alternatively, a photoangiolytic laser can be used in an office based laser surgery procedure. In most cases after adequate treatment, the edema will not recur again. However, when smoking or reflux are still present, Reinke’s edema might come back.